I have the feeling deep down in my bones that the Kurds of Rojava are using the current YPG/SDF offensive to take Manbij as a means of reuniting with their brothers and sisters in Afrin. They sense the possible. CENTCOM spokesmen have assured us, and Turkey, that the Arabs are in the lead in this offensive to take Manbij, that only 500 Kurds are taking part in the fighting and that they will leave once the objectives are accomplished. I seriously doubt all of this.
The map above was made two days ago. As of this morning the YPG/SDF forces may have completed the encirclement of Manbij or they may have left an escape route to the northwest open. They definitely have continued further west to Al’Arimah. They are halfway to Al-Bab. All those yellow dots on the map are Kurdish villages and towns just begging to be connected. Now that the chase is on, I don’t see how those YPG fighters can resist the temptation to fulfill their Rojavan dream… or at least try.
U.S. Special Forces and French special operations forces are advising/assisting the ground forces around Manbij. Our air support can come from our carrier off the coast as well as from our airbase in Turkey. I don’t see any signs of this support being withdrawn before the Kurds can realize their objectives. What will we tell Erdogan if that happens? Tango sierra?
This map is the work of a good cartographer. It conveys accurate information and tells the story that the cartographer intends to tell. It is the work of Ariyan Mahmoud (@AriyanMahmoud). His twitter description states, “I am mainly interested in history. I create maps too.” With this map, I think he intended to say that Rojava will be one.
I took several courses in cartography many years ago. I still have my Rapidograph pens, though I doubt cartographers use those much anymore. Below is another map by another cartographer who describes himself as a historian, conflict analyst and map maker. Emmanuel Pene is an editor of “The Maghreb and Orient Courier” and founder of the website agathocledesyracuse.com, a treasure trove of maps. This particular map, also done two days ago, depicts the disposition of YPG/SDF forces around Manbij. Here we can see smaller units arrayed along the road networks with a lot of space between these units and a vast amount of empty space behind them. This is probably an accurate depiction of how troops are deployed throughout Syria. Colonel Lang is right. There aren’t enough troops.
I had read last night that they had already cut the road between Manbij and al-Bab??? Cannot seem to find the link this AM, so perhaps it was premature?
TTG et al
The Turks and US used the “ceasefire” to bring a lot of force into the area west of Aleppo City. This is a major development. It endangers government control of its portion of Aleppo City. The R+6 advance on Tabqa air base is being run on what was once called in WW2, “a pencil like thrust” This column needs to take the air base where armed helicopters can be positioned to hold the shoulders of this salient open. I also agree that the SDF/YPG force is not strong enough to carry all the way to Afrin. pl
TTG – nice link to Ariyan Mahmoud, thanx. This morning he shows Manbij completely surrounded and cut off from al-Bab.
PS – gotta love his quote: “You can kill a Kurd, but you can’t kill Kurdistan”
Even in the desert , strategic thinking has to set Line ( L0, L1,L2 and so ) on the ground to define COA.
Can Euphrate river be such a line ?
Is it possible to use it as a temporary line to crush ISIS force remaining in the desert,reorganize and resupply ?
Would like to know your opinion, gentlemen.
There are also a lot of non-Kurdish villages in that map. Also not all Kurds (by far) are behind the YPG and its policies. The YPG-Kurds might well have problems to fulfill their dreams there. Longterm I do not give them any chance to hold onto that planned corridor without some major support from a big power. The U.S. is that role is notoriously unreliable.
The R+6, in Pat’s nomenclature, fear that the U.S. might want to grab a major air port in east-Syria. It would not leave for a long time. That is the reason to move towards Taqba and also the reason to defend Deir Ezzor at any price. Luckily the Kurds have no interest to bleed for Raqqa or U.S. geopolitical aims that contradict their own priorities.
‘The Turks and US used the “ceasefire” to bring a lot of force into the area west of Aleppo City. This is a major development. It endangers government control of its portion of Aleppo City.’
Do the people in the U.S. (and the U.K.) who think this is a clever way to exploit the ‘ceasefire’ have any idea of the fire with which they are playing?
Very many people in this country simply want to see the jihadists destroyed. They couldn’t give an (expletive deleted) about the use of ‘barrel bombs’ by SAA forces. And my strong hunch is that this is true throughout Europe.
If it comes to be perceived that – even if the Iran deal has gone through – the likes of Erdogan and Mohammed bin Salman have only to say ‘Assad must go’, and the President of the United States, and his European ‘claque’, snap to attention and say something ‘Befehl is Befehl’, the fat really is in the fire.
Is “having enough troops” a thing of the past for anything short of full-on ethnic cleansing?
The Iran deal was always a cease-fire; US and EU have removed their (economic) siege engines to outside of the firing range and the Iranian blockade runners – knowing that the cease-fire deal could collapse at any moment – are busy getting whatever benefit they can out of it.
Let us not kid ourselves here; Germany could sell 1000 leopard tanks to SAR through a loan. So could France. I draw my own conclusions.
” fear that the U.S. might want to grab a major air port ; I gathered from public Internet sources that this also is a major Iranian fear.
There will always be manpower shortages without conscription. The new world order wars are fought with volunteers, contractors and anyone stuck in the middle. The minorities on the R + 6 side have a smaller pool of men than the 1 ½ billion Sunnis. This is also is the basic problem with poking the Russian bear, without draftees to dig and defend the trenches; WWIII will go nuclear almost immediately. The other fly in the ointment is that moneymen like war and are intent on dismantling sovereign states and ending their power of taxation and regulation. Without strong states with modern people’s armies to enforce the peace and defend borders, the religious ethnic contests for resources by warlords will continue forever or until mankind destroys itself. Africa, the Middle East and Europe are at war. The pivot to Asia and North America is next.
If the USA had a small professional NCO and Officer Corps and every able-bodied citizen had to take basic training and serve in the militia; poor whites would not be in despair or called racists.
Germany doesn’t have a 1000 leopards but i get what you mean
‘Befehl is Befehl’
Or is this as commonly known in GB as “Achtung!”. That was widespread knowledge at my time.
‘The Turks and US used the “ceasefire” to bring a lot of force …
Mentioned before, saw it here before, not doubt. But: Is that so, not the least intention to question it, but how could I tell, as someone that hardly checks news
Ah, you want the Israeli army? pl
You can kill a Kurd, but you can’t kill Kurdistan
I am heart and soul with the Kurds and their supports, but where did you find the quote?
People like TTG, John Minnerath, Degringolde and me do not need that. We are obviously emotionally deprived and would lay down our lives for the freedom of these Kurds or any number of others if someone will let us. It was easier in the old days when we were not so supervised. Homage to Aaron Bank and The Bull. DOL pl
Amen to all that. Death is but the orders for the next deployment. DOL
The Israeli army has been corrupted by occupation duty. Draft avoidance will reportedly reach 60% by 2020. Both go hand in hand.
The USA will have its own ethnic conflict in the Southwest if everyone here is not treated the same and if illegal immigration is not halted. As long as identity politics is used to gain control by dividing Americans by sex, religion and race; the splintering will continue. Sorry, this post is off subject but Syria is the writing on the wall for the rest of the world if the war there is allowed to continue unabated.
at TTG’s twitter link above @ariyanmahmoud
I believe that quote was meant to honor Abu Layla, a Kurdish commander who was killed in the fighting at Manbij on 5 June. He was originally a commander in the YPG in Kobane during that siege. But he commanded a unit of Kurds, Assyrians and Arabs at Manbij.
there will not be a draft because returned soldiers are capable of forming an effective political movement if there are enough of them and if the mix includes officers.
I have a lot of doubts about how much Kurdish the places marked as Kurdish in that map nowadays really are, too. However, I do believe that there is a grain of truth in it, and even if there is only a bit of truth in it, I could imagine it’s quite relevant. Take for example intel gathering, if the YPG is able to identify in various villages a few poeple with friendly to them, it will help them a lot. And of what I know about Syria people there happen to know each other. I guess the YPG will have combed their own man for connections to these villages and they have a lot of very detailed information like, Abu Mahmud in this village has always participated in Kurdish schemes to smuggle Diesel to Turkey, he will likely be friendly if he smells business, Abu Mohammed of that village is a heavy smoker and only interested in his livestock, so try and go talk with him over a cigarette, but Abu Jamal of the viallge over there was always a Brotherhood friend close to the IS ideology, be careful with that village.
These kind of deep information inside Kurdish networks may allow to make coffee drinking pictures like this:
That pic was alledgly shot yesterday more than five kilometer in front of the YPG/ISIS frontline – meaning deep inside ISIS territory. I think knowing with whom you can have a friendly talk over a coffee can be enormously helpful in such a warzone.
My information indicate that the Syrian, Iranian and Russian leadership share the view that the US-backed YPG successes along the Turkish border are very helpful for the Syrian army because the YPG effectively closes the Turkish border for terrorists. However in the lower ranks there is a lot of mistrust against the US activity helping the Kurds and against the national ambitions of the Syrian Kurds.
Sputnik had today an intersting article by Ghassan Kadi on that topic:
Your title to the thread “THALASSA, THALASSA” triggered memories of the ancient Greek in Xenephon: “Thallata, Thallata.” This was the cry of Xenephon’s men after an ill-considered campaign he undertook in the Hellespont 20+ centuries ago chronicled in Xenephon’s “Anabasis” after being lost and rejoicing upon sight of the sea. The sea and access to it was and continues to be critical in our days of geopolitical politics if not in the era of the GPS for some.
I recall in the KFOR response in Kosovo,of sending UK troops to serve and a truck that ended up in Athens after being unloaded here in Thessaloniki. Obviously the driver did not know where the sea should be from here to head north. This was not aided by the locals here in Greece who removed the signs or turned them around out of support for their Serbian Orthodox co-religionists.
Am I just free associating here, or did you intend that reference?
That was precisely my intention. I imagined the excitement of the YPG fighters mirroring that of Xenephon’s warriors. One of my men used the exclamation after cresting the Koolau range after a long climb in the mountain jungle of Oahu. It was quite impressive how many of my men knew the reference.
De Oppresso Liber. I always translated it as the imperative “liberate the oppressed” although I’m most likely wrong in that. It’s the motto of the U.S. Army Special Forces. It’s on our crest, on our coins and in our hearts.
I am waiting for EU to drop her economic sanctions against SAR – we all know that it will not happen; it is yet another perceived lever of power against the R+6.
It would have been funny had it not been so deadly.
“Draft avoidance will reportedly reach 60% by 2020.”
Does that includes Haredis as draft avoiders? They are something of a special case.
I think draft dodging still earns you “wolf’s passport” in Israel – good luck trying to find a job etc.
The combination of the YPG joining hands in NW Syria and the SAA driving to Tabaqa airbase, regardless of motives, IMO, is the best strategic play against ISIS. If either is successful then it will cut ISIS off from Turkey and pretty much kill their oil smuggling and disrupt the flow of foreign fighters, if any still want to join the Caliphate. Even if it is not successful, it will keep ISIS busy so that they can’t launch random attacks against the SAA and force them to run around like chickens with their heads cut off responding to them.
I read in almasdarnews that the first SAA attack, led by the Tigers was rebuffed but since JAN had almost 3 mo’s to restock with both fighters and supplies, this was the price of the cease fire. I guess we should not be surprised if the SAA Aleppo campaign follows the pattern of last October but at an accelerated pace. By that I mean where the SAA looks to be stalled for a while, the western MSM cackles at their misery, but then the dam breaks and they succeed. After all the clock has been reset to some extent.
To cut down on the moderation overhead I am tagging on a separate but related topic, here is the most irritating lie of the week on the Syrian civil war. The gist of the article is that Russia is trying to pull a fast one by reaching out to ‘our rebels’. He manages to portray this as sinister and as a sign of weakness because it shows that Russia doesn’t have an end game.
After recovering enough from my stroke, I posted that on the 60 minutes interview, aired days before the Russian intervention, Putin explicitly stated that he was supporting the legitimate govt of Syria and encouraging them to reach out to the healthy parts of the opposition and to engage in political reform. The arrogance, and laziness of these so called experts, well, as hard as I try I still can’t get used to it. It still gets to me.
The Euphrates is dammed for its full length from Tabqa Dam north to Turkey. It is mostly several hundred metres wide, and deep along the original river bed. Probably not flowing very fast because the Turks unlikely to be releasing water from upstream.
Until the Kurds put in a temporary bridge at Qara Qozak last month, the only crossings were at Tishreen Dam and Tabqa Dam (apart from a couple of crossings up next to the Turkish border).
There never seemed to be many boats along the river. Many boats didn’t have engines. There may be a few vehicle-capable ferries, but if you wanted to cross the river but avoid the Tishreen Dam crossing, you’d be well advised to bring your own capability.
For the most part, if Da’esh forces get to the river, they may be able to escape themselves, but they’ll be leaving their mechanicals at the water’s edge.
Yes – Swiss model. 100% agree. Also trains leadership at a community level. The overlords don’t want it, won’t have it, but it is a solid way to revive the country.
Anabasis was translated into Persian decades ago; I do not know if it has been translated into Turkish. Doubtful that it has been translated into any of the mutually unintelligible Kudish languages.
He does recount their encounters with the Kurds; rolling down borders at them etc.
The Syrian government and R+6 have six months.
That is not much time, especially with the manpower shortage to try to take back the entire country. It is like the reverse of the “spread offense” in U.S. football, invented by Hal Mumme and Mike Leach, the idea of which is to make the defensive team defend the entire field, by sending out four or five pass receivers on every play. Since those opposing the Syrian government, which of course includes ISIS, are spread out over most of Syria, R+6 has to take back most of the field, and does not have a lot of players to do so.
Hillary Clinton will not cancel the U.S. policy to overthrow the Syrian government, but will escalate it. And remember that Bill and Hillary did not even bother with getting an “authorization” from Congress to launch the war on Yugoslavia / Serbia.
Donald Trump has been like the ball in a pinball machine, careening all over the place about the Middle East / MENA.
Everything the U.S. has done (and will continue to do) in Syria has been to advance the policy of regime change, including the “cessation of hostilities”. Sure enough, the opposition is trying to strengthen itself by the city of Aleppo, as Col. Lang noted above.
So it looks as if R+6 can use the next six months to concentrate on Aleppo City and driving northeast from Palmyra to Deir ez Zor, and then due east to the Iraq border. If nothing else, they can then recapture the Euphrates River going southeast to the Iraq border and the oil pipelines in that area. Then, you can draw a line going northeast from Damascus through Palmyra to Deir ez Zor, and then straight east to the Iraq border, and the Syrian government would effectively control that large area all the way down to its southern border. If you color that area in on a map with the rose or light reddish color for the Syrian government, it starts looking pretty good, and the squeeze is on ISIS.
That is a tall order for six months, but would likely put R+6 in the best position for the uncertainty of 2017.
To the extent that the Kurds with U.S. help move on Manbij, so much the better, as that may put more heat on ISIS going west toward Aleppo City.
You like conscription? How about sending draft notices
to the hundreds of thousands of single military aged men flooding into
Europe from the ME & North Africa? U.S. troops are serving multiple
tours while these refugees are hopping into rubber dinghies heading
for a welfare state. Certainly they can’t all be ISIS sympathizers, disabled
or conscientious objectors.
What you describe for intel gathering is basically how things are worked out in general throughout rural ME and Africa.
Offering tea is standard hospitality towards anybody passing by, and accepting to stop by to have tea is standard civility. This is also the usual setting of any negotiation, where things are discussed at length.
The article you cite looks legit to me. The Russian and American attempts to sway individual militias away from the extremists is in fact where the real future is being negotiated, one militia at a time, times hundreds.
Another map of the ethnic makeup of northern Syria:
I don’t know of any existing airports up for grabs in eastern Syria. More likely that an agricultural landing strip or fieldstrip near the oil and gas fields which could be lengthened to mile long runway. Perhaps something near Shadadi oilfields would be easier and more valuable.
Is that because the Iranians want a land transportation corridor from Baghdad to Damascus?
Based on that map and following the ethnic composition, one might expect the Kurdish offensive to go west to al-Bab and then stop.
10 months. Not much will happen on Jan 20 (7 months), and any policy change will take some time to wind up. If momentum has returned significantly to R+65 in these 10 months, call it a year.
The article I cite is taking late notice of a fact, the Russians are trying to woo U.S. backed militias and then distorts and lies about everything else.
I’ll list them …
1. The Russians have targeted all rebels not just ISIS. Lie, the Russians have never bombed the Kurds. The Russians have only bombed the Islamic groups and those fighting along side the Islamic groups.
2. The Russian outreach is primarily aimed at reducing U.S. influence. Lie or self-delusion; it is targeted at getting them to stop fighting with JAN against Assad’s forces.
3. The Russian outreach is a desperate strategy to find a way out of Syria. Lie, this strategy was clearly stated on the Charlie Rose interview on 60 minutes PRIOR to the Russian campaign in Syria. There is no way that this can be spun into a weakness or a plan B. This was plan A. It might be a bad plan, but it was clearly plan A.
Regarding #2, are we the most Narcissistic people on earth right now? Everything is always targeted at us in the U.S. Countries like Russia and Syria are just interested in thwarting the U.S. and don’t have their own individual plans. I just love the arrogance associated with that mindset, I also love how we completely disregard what the Russians said last September and have been continuing to say since the. Why listen to what the Russians say when we can tell the Russians what they are thinking.
I do not think so, they just do not trust the United States at all. Certainly Khamenei has no confidence in Obama’s words.
Regardless of who the next US president is going to be, we know that Congress has only authorized funding for Iraq/Syria/Afghanistan to April 2017 unless something changes in the next few weeks.
Any negotiated alternative is going to require some coalescence of militias. That the Russians/Syrians are talking to the non-JAN Sunni militias is a good thing. The Kurds/Americans are doing it too? Good. How did you think peace was actually going to be worked out?
What is your take on the meeting last week in Iran between Syria, Russia and Iran? Any local color or results?
Funny that you mentioned this subject, because yesterday I saw on a car a sticker saying “Anti-War Veteran”.
I should of course have written ‘Befehl ist Befehl’.
The reason the phrase came naturally to me is that it encapsulates a kind of cartoon image of Germans familiar from British films of the ‘Fifties: heel-clicking and efficiently stupid. (This was a long time before ‘Das Boot’.)
An equivalent British phrase – ‘Orders is orders’ – has a quite different ring: the bad grammar itself implies a spirit of – how to put it? – slightly sly plebeian scepticism.
Not quite an English-language equivalent of ‘The Good Soldier Svejk’, but a bit along those lines.
What recalled the phrase was what – perhaps erroneously – I took to be a suggestion on the part of ‘bth’ that, if the Turks and Saudis insisted that ‘Assad must go’, then really, there was nothing that a U.S. President could do about it.
I do not think that there is any possibility of a negogiated peace; some one or some group of countries must lose; i.e. their investments and equities be written off as a total loss.
I personally think it likely that the Ruissan-Iranian Entente will prevail for 2 metaphysical reasons: they have a sketched out a more credible vision of the future and, secondarily, those fighting on their side are fighting for their physical survival.
Lincoln had his 10% solution and Southerners did not fear for their continued physical existence at the hands of the Union Armies.
Jihadists, Gulfies, and their crypto-supporters have nothing positive to recommend itself. That is why, in my opinion, they will lose.
I think the diction depicted in those movies were based, roughly, on the Eastern Germans – Prussians and all. In Hamburg, indeed around the North Sea coast, the German diction is much softer.
I had thought peace was going to be achieved by the comprehensive extermination of every last trace of rebellion of any sort. How else would peace be achieved in a Syria situation? But I am just an amateur opinionator.
If my intuitive feel about how to achieve peace in Syria is correct, then we will indeed see armed conflict going on there for years and years and years . . . until every last hot-spot of armed conflicters has been disarmed or exterminated.
Switzerland which has mandatory military service for all able-bodied male citizens is seizing assets from refugees to cover costs and is not a preferred destination of Syrian refugees. There is a correlation. The power of the overlords is moderated to some extent if their lives and assets depend on the military service of the little people.
The Swiss voted to keep the draft. They believe conscription and a strong deterrence kept them out of World War I and II.
They have no deterrent, in my opinion. Other European powers have agreed to leave them alone. Do you think Wehrmacht would have been stopped by the Swiss Army?
I agree, 4 more years if the estimate of Ali Larijani is to be believed….
I was joking, David. It was used like that at home. Forget who started it, usually responding to an order from mother.
It obviously triggers the usual excuse type not only in Nuremberg (Nürnberg) defense.
BTH judging from your response you have misconstrued my objection to the article. So I will try to be brief and not repeat myself.
1. I am aware of the Russian plan because I have paid attention to Russian statements on the matter from before their intervention. I believe that the Russian plan is actually the best one for Syria because they are trying to balance a military solution with the day after problem. Their reaching out to FSA elements and trying to get them to stop fighting the SAA and at least STOP supporting JAN is a good thing. The Russian plan is the Geneva peace plan from 2012.
2. My objection to the article was the author’s restating of Russian intentions. I objected to the author’s main premise that their reaching out to the FSA was a sign of desperation, failure, and primarily designed to find a way to undermine the U.S. I branded it a lie because in an attempt to portray the Russians negatively it omitted the very important detail; one that they stated national TV prior to their intervention. Leaving out crucial facts is a type of lie, along with the actual lie that I already stated (regarding them bombing ALL rebels).
I did repeat myself in point 2, it’s hard not to.
The Russians want multi-party elections in Syria that include Assad and secular rebels who don’t support JAN, but one that excludes JAN and Army of Islam. We in the U.S. want to exclude Assad, JAN, but include Army of Islam and rebels who support JAN. Our plan is FUBAR.
I agree, that’s how I understand the proceedings in Syria.
And, that’s my point, having some common Kurdish language and heritage with some poeple there and deep insider knowledge, will make the chances of being successful in these crucial warfare operations of drinking coffee and tea with (often armed) locals a lot bigger, even if there is only a grain of truth in the YPG claim of the villages being Kurdish.
I’m not claiming that that’s all, but I think good connections with locals are very crucial in warzones like these, because without them you hardly know who’s friend and who’s enemy.
There are hundreds of defensive local militias in Syria, namely Sunni Arab. If someone (SAA/Russian or Kurd/American) shows up with $100K in a duffle bag and a case of Marlboros and says if you’ll stop shooting at us, we won’t shoot at you, and here is a bonus if you just point out IS/JAN positions, I have to think that is a compelling discussion five years into a civil war. Indeed a necessary discussion multiplied times hundreds for a peace to be sorted out.
I agree with your main points though I don’t think Russia’s willingness to open discussions with FSA indicates a weakness, more a reality. If negotiated resolution is possible then all the better. I do not see any peace with JAN or IS. Those are different.
That is not how it has worked historically; not during WBS nor in Spain.
Some people have to be killed and their kin so cowed as to never ever try rebellion again.
A very sad statement by a “morturi” as though there is a single Kurdistan and single unitary Kurdish People.
The various urban & rural Kurds, speaking a variety of mutually unintelligible languages, organized traditionally in mutually hostile clans, do not constitute a country or a people in the way that the Rus or the Korean are.
And for the young people who will have to make a life for themselves in the existing world – and not just a fantasy for which they are used up as nothing better than a cannon fodder by the venal cynical elders of Kurds – there is no viable alternative that learning Turkish in Turkey, Arabic in Syria and Iraq, and standard Persian in Iran so that they may be able to live and work and engage in the commercial, economical, and political life of the countries that they live in.
Yes, I am aware of the blood and sword means that Germans and French and Italians and the English created the modern Western European states. Kurds will not have that chance because there are already hardy countries – led by hardened men – who will not countenance such a thing as an independent Kurdistan.
Such statements, by such “morturi”, has the effect of leading more young people to their deaths. And all for nothing, in my view.